Growing up, Kevin Phillips knew he wanted to be involved with science and technology. In high school he took advanced courses and went on to graduate from Oakwood University in Alabama.

Today, Phillips instills that same love of learning in students in the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Md. area by volunteering as a mentor.

"It's always good to give back," said Phillips, the project lead for In-Line Network Encryption/In-Line Media Encryption at Project Director Network Enabler (PD Net E), assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T). "It starts from a positive attitude that you can empower others to be better than you were at that time in your life. You pay it forward."

Working with the Boys and Girls Club at the Edgewood Community Center, Philips volunteers his time to help children in fifth through 12th grades with their homework. He is part of a group of volunteers that includes engineers, logisticians, financial advisors and other professionals.

"Although this is a math mentoring program, we have taken the opportunity to also set up etiquette classes and take them to museums," Phillips said. ?"We try to cultivate various life skills."

Phillips also works with the National Guard Freestate ChalleNGe Academy at APG to help students who are no longer in high school pursue their General Educational Development (GED) certificates.

"There is more than just tutoring for that program, because depending on when they left school, they haven't learned certain formulas and standards, so we're really teaching them," Phillips said. "The program is designed so that once they get their GED, they can try to put their skills to use in different outlets to get a better life."

While Phillips feels that helping the students get their GEDs is important for the students' future, he also believes that simply being a good role model could help them stay on the right path.

"Once they see us come in, professionally dressed, they're very receptive," Phillips said. "They like to know we're young and we speak well and dress well and inspire them to do the same things. I try to instill some of the things I didn't have or that I had to learn the hard way."

Phillips said that, while the work he does is voluntary, there is a reward when it is all done.

"The excitement on their faces, whether they received A's on their report cards or if they earned their GED, is a great feeling," Phillips said. "I believe children have an aspiration to learn. Once they realize it's not as hard as they thought, we connect the dots."